30 Minutes in the Life: July 2020

And so life goes on…. Florida is spiking like crazy and I am staying at home as much as possible. The virus came closer to home with my sister in law, who lives oversees, being diagnosed Covid Positive. Then one of my husband’s employees was diagnosed Covid positive. We are now quarantining for the next 2 weeks dependent on his test this last week. It is a bit of a wake up call that it really can affect you no matter how much care you take. The good news is that I am okay with staying home 🙂

Work happens 4 days a week, and all is good. Our vacation was cancelled and that was a real bummer. Hopefully August 2021 will be a better year. Now to figure out what to do with 24 days of vacation.

Oh, I so want to travel. What better to do than to go back in the archives and see what has not been edited. Maine 2018, and we had just traveled through Bar Harbor. What to do the next day? I suggested we go to the “less busy” island adjacent to Bar Harbor. Less busy was a good description. What we had more of was mist. That said mist gave me the opportunity to go back and play with black and white images. This month I am sharing 30 minutes of a day in the mist.

Mist or fog creates this eerie kind feeling as you walk along the banks of the water. However, I did like the mist slipping around us. One day we will be able to get on the road again, and I have to be honest I look forward to it. I am sure you do to.

Please stay safe, wherever you are in the world. Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend April of April White Photography  and see what she has for you this month.  Check out her Facebook page as well.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: July 2020: New

It sure feels like these blogs are flying around faster than I can get to them. Share Six is up today and the theme is {New}. I would like to say it is a new day, but sadly life goes on, the same old same. Florida’s test results for the Corona Virus are spiking and it is just better to stay at home where we can. Yesterday we had 9488 new cases and 68 deaths. Today we have 11458 new cases and 17 deaths. Florida has had a total of 3703 deaths. When I start to dig deeper 541 of them have come out of my county. Go deeper and I know that in the small zone area that I live in 79 people are positive. I have to wonder what the rest of the year is going to look like. Added to that we are in hurricane season, and August to November are typically the most active. If you read my blog on the 29th you would have read about the Sahara Sandstorms. Apparently hurricanes do not like them. Not sure which is better but I am opting for the sandstorm. Lots of dust that creates beautiful sunsets.

So what is new? As you might recall 2 or so years ago I flooded the house. Yup, I did. I ran a bath and got distracted editing and the next thing the fire alarm was going off and I walked out of my office to a stream of water heading to the stair case. From the bottom it looked like a waterfall. My heart sank, and I knew I was in big trouble. Fortunately, and I thank my good Lord, I think Richard realized that I was probably in a state of shock and horrified by what had happened. The upside of the whole episode was that we had to renovate. The insurance company came in and dried out the house, removed and replaced the wooden flooring upstairs, and replaced the ceiling. We opted to remove all the existing old tiles and wood, and replace them with more modern larger floor tiles. We repainted and refurnished because everything on the lower level ended up wet. The whole process took us about 8 months to get finished and by the end of it I was so tired of living in a construction zone.

However the water did not reach the kitchen, and so other than the ceiling being replaced, and Richard putting in sunken lights, no other work was done in there. Twenty years ago the kitchen may have been great but as the years passed, the chipboard cupboard doors were doing just that, chipping. The wood finishes looked yuck, and it just needed a pick me up. Also at some point we will sell this house and the kitchen was not great. Added to that the counter was finished with tiny square tiles and a whole lot of grout that continually got dirty and I was continually bleaching and scrubbing.

So much has changed in the house that the next step was the kitchen. The process was pretty quick. We met with the contractor who showed us samples of different kitchen cupboards, handles etc. Lots of choices. We gave her an idea of what we wanted and before we knew it she had the plans for us. Richard had his ideas and I had mine, let me say no more. The old kitchen had this short wall behind the wash basin, that hid what was on the counter from the room adjacent. The room adjacent was a breakfast room, which Richard had finally turned into his office. That said we were not going to allow that to define what we did in the kitchen.

First things first, before any work can start, the old cupboards have to come out. Of course, I have visions of them being put in the Laundry. Well that did not happen. I was back to the sense of deja vu. The house downstairs was back to chaos again. Fortunately it was only for 6 weeks. The contractors came in and pulled out the old cabinets. Richard tiled under where the new cupboards would go, had a few plug points moved, pulled off the old backslash tiles and in the process had to replace the backing board. Since most of the houses are made of cardboard here and not brick the process was pretty easy.

Some of the changes we made. I wanted the dishwasher shifted to the end of the counter space and the wash basin more in the middle. Richard wanted to utilize the corners with corner cabinets. He wanted to put a corner cabinet next to the washbasin, and I wanted drawers. That was probably the toughest agreement to at this point. We had looked at granite and that seemed a very simple process. I wanted granite patterns that flowed rather than something that looked like a cross section of plant cells. I did not like the dots :). Added to that alot of what we saw had yellow undertones and our floor tiles have a red undertone. That did not seem like a problem to Richard, but that was a biggie for me. Having settled on a slab of granite, I went back to check the second slab as we would need two. My heart dropped. The second slab did not match the first one in any way. It was a completely different lot number and pattern. I was seriously bummed.

Now we have cupboards in and no counter top. I am tired of washing dishes in a basin out on the patio, and using the coffee machine and microwave outside as well. Added to that no stove. For people who do not eat out a lot, this quickly becomes a pain.

So I started looking. I was set on the slab that I initially like. We found it at another shop only to find that the slab was not big enough. Added to that, when they pulled out the old basin, the pipe developed a leak. So the water got switched off. Fortunately our neighbor is a contractor and he got one of his plumbers to come in and fix the leak. While Richard was working with him, I was driving from West Palm Beach to Broward County looking at slabs. Some of the factories I was happy to stop at but some of them looked a little shady. Finally I had a short list. To be honest I had gone back to Richards likes, even though I was not happy with it. However, I had seen a slab, that he looked at and did not like. I went back there again and still liked it. So I dragged him off to look at the shortlist and finally we settled on a slab. The best part was the second slab matched.

Once the contractor had the slabs they began the cutting process, and before we knew it they were ready to come and add the counter top. In the midst of that I was searching the web for wash basins. I wanted one part bigger than the other part. In hindsight, I probably could have got away with them both being the same size, but there are times when you have something that is big that you need to wash and you want the space. I wanted a draining board which are hard to find in the US and Richard wanted an under the slab kind of basin. So I lost the draining board. Yes, I tend to wash dishes more than use the dishwasher. There is just two of us and it is easier and quicker to hand wash them.

Finally the day arrived for the contractor and her team to bring in the two slabs. I was in awe of these guys. These slabs are heavy and because we wanted one solid piece that had to be very careful moving the bigger of the two pieces.

Kuddo’s to this team. They were so professional, worked well together and got that huge slab into the house in one piece. I was nervous watching them. They then had to get it into the breakfast room so that they could lift it up onto the cabinets. It took some planning, and a lot of muscle to do this. Everyone, including the contractor, was holding their breath.

They did it. I was impressed and relieved because I was not going to be able to get another slab if that one got damaged. Once the slab was laid, the basins were fitted, the holes for the tap and garbage disposal button were drilled and the counter top was polished.

I will be honest and say I was smiling. We had settled on the taps and so they went ahead and installed them for us as well. I was so impressed with the work that this team had done for us. They came in with a team of three to fit the cabinets and it was all finished in one day, then they came with the slab and it was all finished in one day. The work was quality and I was very grateful to them for all they did to make this happen.

Moving beyond that we had to settle on appliances. We needed a microwave that would fit the space. We debated a microwave on the counter and a extractor hood above the stove or did we want to fit in a large size microwave. After much search we found a compromise of the two. A microwave that has a extractor fan in it as well. I measured my largest dish and length and height both worked with the microwave. So this seemed the perfect option for us. We wanted to go stainless, but all the other appliances were black, so we did a combination of the two. We decided we would replace the rest of the appliances as we needed to or had the funds to do it. The fridge however, sped up that process and died on us. I have a side by side and the freezer was working but the fridge side felt as hot as Florida on a hot and humid day. So off we went to find a new fridge. I might add all this is happening in the middle of the start of the Covid pandemic, and I am at the local hardware store where they have lines letting you in and then I get in there and find staff are not even wearing masks. We finally decided on a fridge online. It was slightly bigger than what we had but would still fit in the space. On this we went stainless as well. Eventually the dishwasher and stove will be replaced.

One of the best decisions that we made was to loose the little wall and carry the counter top out 9 inches from the edge of the cabinet. That will ultimately allow for someone to sit and eat at the counter. Will we eat there, probably not. We have a diningroom, we have an outside patio table and we have an outside bar area, so this is moot, but it will be good when we come to sell the house. Added to that we scored 2 chairs off our daughter. She had bought a secondhand diningroom table and 2 of the 6 chairs did not match and she decided that we could have the two that did not match. It works perfect with the color scheme. Loosing the wall also opened the whole area and gives a much bigger feel to the room.

Next on our things to do, was agree on a back splash. Richard and I have such different tastes. I did not like what he liked and I had this rough looking stone in my mind, and he did not want that. He said it would gather dirt. Finally we found something we could both compromise on. I got the stone look and he got the smooth finish. A little side note, this scale is about 80 years old. It belonged to my grandmother. I had it bronzed before we left South Africa, but somehow it was sitting next to a water feature and the water drops damaged the bronze. As children my brother and I used to go to my grandmothers and I recall us playing shops. We had to weigh out all the cereal we were selling.

It’s all the little things now. Finding a decent container for the dish washing liquid, and adding some hand soap and cream to use after washing dishes. I just bought these two orchids the other day. Orchids remind me of my dad, and I saw these two, which are so different to the Phalaenopsis we so commonly find in Florida. These two were apparently products of Hawaii. The smaller one looks like a Clamshell Orchid. The taller one could be called a Hilo Firecracker ‘Lucky Strike’. But it is nice to have a reminder of my dad.

My little white canisters disappeared and the next thing I saw them back silver and black. That is Richard for you. Remind me of my grandmother. She used to paint everything. Including the scale above. When I got it from her it was white. Mmm maybe he needs to pain that as well.

Last little trick Richard came up with, which is very nice at night. Under cabinet strip lighting. These are cheap fancy lighting. They change color, and can be really bright or dim as you need them. He likes the blueish color and I like the warm tones of the orange. It is nice to dim them at night when you go to bed. If for any reason you find your way down the stairs there is some light in the kitchen to welcome you.

As I mentioned earlier we had to buy two slabs because the slab that had the larger counter top was not big enough to cut a solid piece and the second counter top piece. So there was a lot left over. Richard decided to buy some additional cabinets to go in the bay area and we had them cut a slab to go on top of the cabinets. Which is perfect for my lady lamp. There is a back story to the lady as well. When we first arrived here, those that had gone before us spoke of dumpster shopping. I was horrified. That was not something I had ever done. However, we were driving past a house one day and I spotted this at the end of the driveway. I told Richard to stop and pick it up. Of course, I was not doing it, I made him do it. It appears it was originally a lampshade, but I had him remove all the wires and made it into a candle holder. She reminded me of my friend Gavin, who had some beautiful lady lamps.

Last item we had cut out of the slab was a counter top that would function as a desk for Richard. We moved his old desk out of the area and he bought two units that were stand alone drawer and filing cabinets, and we had the second piece laid on top of that. It could be used as a serving area, or at some point it could be put onto high pedestals and made to be a high top table. We are trying to think outside the box :). In the meantime, that is his workspace, and mine is upstairs in one of the bedrooms.

{New} took me on an interesting path. I know this is longer than six images but I wanted to share the results of some challenging decisions, some compromise, great contractor and her staff workmanship and my new kitchen. I am so happy with it. Now to the next project…..

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  I love sneak peaks – they are always amazing.  This is an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist Michele of Michele Tremblay Photo and see what she has for you this month. To check out her Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_new

Tell Me a story: June 2020

I have to confess that being stuck at home makes it hard to come up with new blogs each month. However, this month I happened to read about the Saharan Sand Storm that was moving across the Atlantic ocean towards the USA. Who would believe that a sandstorm would cross 5000 miles of ocean to affect another continent. The storm is predicted to impact Florida and Texas, and then head up even as far as Canada. One of the positives of the sandstorm is apparently sunsets, so I headed out to the Everglades National Park to catch the sunset.

Of course, I was not alone. There were plenty of folk out watching the sunset. This seems to have become the go to place just lately. I have been there on evenings when I am one of 5, and the place is really creepy and lonely, and when it get’s dark it really gets dark.

I guess every photographer had the same idea, lets see what we can get from the Sandstorm. And for each one of us, the evening definitely showed up. There were also just folk around watching the sunset. My struggle is how to social distance in this situation where there are too many people in a small area. I was able to walk away from the crowd to some extent. Added to that Palm Beach County mandated masks in public places and half the crowd had a face covering missing. Given that Florida’s Corona Virus numbers are spiking daily (3 days ago it was approximately 5000, 2 days ago in the upper 8000’s, yesterday was 9585 and today we are at 8530 and it is not even 2 pm), I am all for people wearing a mask. I have a few medical friends who have clearly stated that you do not want to be intubated. It is not fun.

I still don’t have a new zoom lens, so get in close to the sunset is still not happening, but I keep looking. Now that we are not traveling overseas, I may use my savings to get one. Simba needs to get his infected tooth out first (which is happening this week). Taking a cat to have a tooth removed, is like having a crown put on a human. Yikes. Hopefully I will be able to get both done soon.

I loved the layers of cloud, and I hope that some of this was contributed by the sand storm.

So what causes a Saharan dust storm. It does appear that the evaporation of water, along with the earth warming causes a shelf of sand between the dessert in the north and the savannah in the south causes dust to form. Smaller storms cause downdrafts, resulting in dust storms developing. Large amounts of dust are lifted into the atmosphere. The African Easterly Jet, a strong wind, was weak this June, and this allowed for more dust to accumulate on the west coast of Africa. When the wind picks up again, it then transports a very dense mass of dust.

What we are seeing now is the results of the storm across the southern states of the USA. Added to that, there appears to be another one coming through within the week. This one is set to affect south Florida more densely, so the scientists say.

Whether I saw some effects of the Saharan Sand Storm or not, I loved the effects of the clouds.

There are definitely some pro’s to the sand storm. Apparently sand storms love dry air. Hurricanes hate dry air. So while we are seeing sand storms, we are less likely to see hurricanes. I hope that is true because I am anticipating an active hurricane season. Temperatures in South Florida are high, and the air is oppressive. When it does rain, it may cool things down briefly, but then the humidity level escalates, and I am back to feeling miserable again. Richard, who loves the heat, has mentioned a few times that the air conditioning is a welcome relief just lately.

Another positive of these sand storms is that apparently, is that these dust storms bring much needed soil and nutrients to Florida and to the islands around us. The Amazon Rain Forest also receives their nutrients from these dust storms.

Apparently the sand storms also bring nutrients to the ocean in the form of phosphorus, which is a vital nutrient for growth. Who would believe it, but it is said that alga loves dust. The negative is that red tide apparently loves dust as well. We know what red tide does and we do not necessarily want that in Florida. That is a swimmers nightmare. Although that would be one way to keep people away from the beaches in this Covid-19 period.

A big positive for me is the beauty the dust causes to the sunset. Dust particles scatter the sun rays and leave us with an awesome sunrises and sunsets. Milky skies and the colors seen, will be dark oranges and reds..

There are a number of down sides to the dust storm as well. Microorganisms harmful to humans and plant life may get caught up in the dust storms. Fungal spores and bacteria may also be carried in the dust storms, which may cause harm to coral reefs.

Another negative affects people with respiratory issues, allergies, etc. Have you ever been off road riding where you are causing dust as a result of some crazy driving. I have, and my allergies kill me. Sometimes those dust particles in the storm don’t stay in the upper levels, and drop down and affect us. If you are not wearing a mask for Covid-19, you may want to reconsider the mask for the dust storms coming through. You do not want to land up in hospital with breathing issues, especially with Covid-19 spiking in a lot of areas that the dust storm will affect.

Unlike the dust storm, Alligators are native to Florida and a trip to the Everglades would be a bust if you did not see one. Of course it does help is there is someone fishing. The gator is curious and interested in what is being caught, it’s probably interested in the fisherman as well to be honest.

This particular evening was pleasant, even wearing a mask. Right now I have a handful of surgical masks. They are great except that they are supposed to be worn in freezing cold temperatures during surgery. That makes them extremely hot to wear. But if I can protect myself, and protect my family, while protecting you, I am willing to do it. It just makes sense for me.

Of course if you have the opportunity to share the sunset with a loved one, or a friend, this would be the perfect place to visit. The skies this evening were a splendor for the eyes. Ironically when I left home, I was not sure that I was going to get much.

We did the same as these folks a month or so ago. Richard gets antsy and needs to do something. We took our chairs, our mugs of wine, and we headed out to go and watch the beauty of God’s creation.

The night is done, I have packed up and am walking back to my car, when I take one last look. Yes there are still some photographers, hanging on, waiting to get the last shot, or just catching up with one another. This is the beauty of meeting other photographers at places like the Everglades National Park. We all love creation and the magnificence of it.

Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives.  This is a circle blog.  Take some time to view what the other artists have for you this month. My friend Beth from Beth’s Photoblog is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share

30 Minutes in the Life: June 2020

It’s three months into the pandemic and I am watching the US numbers closely. My state is one of those that is spiking. When I first started looking at stats on March 18 the USA had 8500 positive corona virus tests. Today we have 706 830 a of 10:45 am. I was not watching deaths at the time. However today we have 37,175 deaths. My heart grieves for those families who have lost loved ones and who are unable to say their goodbyes properly. 63 510 people have recovered in the USA, that means there are a huge number of people still out there battling with this virus.

Florida on April 10 had 16828 positive tests and 37 deaths. Today they have 114 018 and 3329 deaths. Palm Beach County (where I live) now has 12498 positive cases and 490 deaths. Florida is spiking. Yesterday we had over 5000 new cases, and by the end of today we will be over 9000 new cases. Palm Beach county has now mandated as of yesterday everyone to wear face masks. It’s pretty strict, and it comes with fines if you do not comply. Many are freaking out, me I am good with it. All I need is to get a decent mask. Surgical masks are meant for negative temperatures and South Florida is not cold right now.

Life has changed for me as a result of the virus. I am now permanently working from home. I have to confess, I work pretty well from home. Best news is that I do not have to travel 2 hours a day to work a day. My 10 hour day is now an 8 hour day. I moved my computers home and had Richard and Cameron haul a huge 4 drawer metal filing cabinet up the stairs. If the office wants it back they are going to have to carry it out themselves 🙂

My desktop looks like something from the space shuttle monitoring room. I have my own personal 30 inch computer monitor. I have my work laptop. I also have two 20 inch work monitors. It is nice not to have to have work items on my personal computer, and it is also nice to be able to log directly into the server.

My office has to be a lot tidier these days. We have a zoom meeting at 9:30 am every day. I don’t work Fridays so I can be a little more lapse on the 3 day weekend. I have had to create boundaries as well. I tend to work beyond my hours because I am in my space. Before my meeting, Houdini, the quaker parakeet I rescued, has to be moved out of my office to the other room. He gets to come back at the end of my work day. He is kind of noisy.

I also have to create breaks. When you work in an office you are moving. You get up to go to the printer. You move to the kitchen for that cup of coffee. You head to your bosses office to meet. You are moving without thinking about it. Being at home, my office is complete. The printer is in my office. I make my hot drink when I wake up and my protein shake before my 9:30 meeting. I also bring up a flask of ice water. I am set for the morning. I am not moving.

I set a time on my calendar for lunch, I planned to walk around the community circle. I did that once and decided it was too hot. I moved the fan this morning to the front of the elliptical machine. I guess that is going to have to happen again. Florida is stinking hot right now and we have not even got through July and August.

My home office has become my place to be. Beyond my work day, I head to my couch to watch the news or to read my book. I am glad that I still love my home office space. This virus has definitely made changes in our lives. I was lying on my couch, in my office, the other night and I looked up to see what the sun was doing, when I looked up I saw the light shining on my flower arrangement. I loved the light on the tulips and I love this spiky greenery that makes me think it may be a thistle. Straight away I got up and grabbed my camera with my macro lens and started taking some images.

Just as you think life is opening up, life seems to be closing up again. As Florida spikes so my home office looks more appealing. I am happy to stay at home. I am not keen to be out and about and exposing myself or my family to the virus. My daughter in law has immunity issues. She is vulnerable. I want to do my part to keep her safe. So, I will stay at home as much as I can, and I will wear a mask when I go out. For me, it is the right thing to do.

Please stay safe, wherever you are in the world. Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Ivana from MaMagare Kidz Photo in Croatia and see what she has for you this month.  Check out her Facebook and Instagram pages as well.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: June 2020: Ordinary to extraordinary

Where are we this month. I have been working from home in my upstairs office since March 16. Those first 4 weeks were crazy for me changing staff from live to virtual appointments. I had 4 weeks of things slowing down a bit. Along with work, I spent my time in the evenings studying the to stats. Watching what was happening in the world, in the state, and in the county with this virus. I was doing this daily. Downstairs Richard worked in his office. He started to go back to work 2 weeks ago. I have shifted to the permanent option of working from home. I have to be honest, I am happy that I will not be driving 2 hours a day. My office looks like the monitor room of NASA . There is a lot of monitors on my desk. And yes, I did stop and watch the SpaceEx shuttle head to out of space I have to be honest. What an amazing achievement for science.

Unemployment is high, the markets have dropped, people are wondering how they are going to feed their families, pay their rents. Food Shelters have lines heading out for miles and this is day after day. I am grateful that our company has managed to keep going and keep all staff employed.

This past 12 days has been hard. Having grown up in South Africa and lived through the Apartheid era, I know how much I hate racism. Watching what happened to George Floyd this week breaks my heart. My heart goes out to his family. I cannot imagine the hurt his mother must be feeling, hearing her son cry out for her. To hear him say “I cannot breathe”. My heart breaks for his children, who will never see their father again. My heart breaks for his family.

We have watched peaceful protests and we have watched we have watched protests that have got violent and angry with lots of looting and damaging and stealing the property of shop owners. I don’t agree with the violence, but I understand the underlying anger that comes with these actions. The killing of George Floyd has become a catalyst for change. There are so many areas that need to change. I am aware that I know only what I have read in books and seen in movies on the history of people of color in the USA. I know that I want to stop and educate myself better. I can do better.

The theme for Share Six this month is {Ordinary to Extraordinary} and it was chosen by Michele Tremblay Photo. The general idea is to take something that is simply ordinary and change it to something that could be viewed as extraordinary. I think we can apply that to our lives now in these difficult times.

This month was a challenging theme. Above are some of my ordinary images. Below is what I have done to try and make them into something a little more extraordinary.

Some years ago when I was in Seattle a friend gave my a hanging glass decoration which I have hang on my bedroom curtain rail. At certain times of the day when the light shines one it you will see these rainbow patterns.

The same curtains have a layer of beaded drapes. I fell in love with them when I was first decorating my room. The ribbon ends have taken some wear and tear from the cats and threads have pulled and they tend to knot up, but I still love the look of the beaded drapes hanging over my curtains.

I happened to pick up a feather walking out of the grocery store one day. Using a mirror I created this reflection that often reminds that this looks like it is lying reflected on the beach. This turned out to be one of my favorite experiments.

Nature is the simple pleasures in life I can find in my garden. These fat Lizards hang out sunning themselves on the rocks. I love the bokeh that this lens has created in the background that just gives this little guy a bit more oomph.

Feathers, I do love feathers. For the longest time we had little brown ducks coming up to feed at the edge of the canal. I have since been banned from feeding them because apparently they cause weeds in the grass. Of course, they drop their feathers everywhere, and this particular day I collect a few and again experimented with a mirror and then some black and white textures.

A simple chess set, lots of angles and some great window light and a bit of editing left me feeling happy with the final result I got from this image. My topic at the time was glass and it was fund to experiment with this photo.

Arum Lily are one of my favorite plants, and I love the color version but I wanted something with a stronger edge to it and so I decided to go black and white, with a little bit of texture.

This was definitely a fun experiment and I loved the abstract look of it. What is it? It’s a dragonfly 🙂 I came across a article about making abstract out of your images and decided to play.

Feathers, and this was definitely another favorite of mine. A feather from a Mallard Duck that hangs out in my back garden – placed on a mirror in front of a window with the light shining onto it caused the image to look sepia.

Another fun abstract image. Believe it or not the original image was wedding flowers. My son was getting married and I was asked to do the wedding flowers for the reception, bathrooms, and isles. This was the isle image that I had hung on my naked lady to see what it would look like. Playing with the same steps as the dragonfly, I was able to capture this creative abstract image.

My last image is back to the Arum Lily. This was taken in front of a window with the natural light shining in on it and then converted to black and white with textures.

Life right now is very ordinary, and yet not ordinary. Right now days seem the same, and yet we are watching all the protesting in the city. While the world is opening up slowly, I am still working from home, and I have to be honest, I am not rushing out. I am happy to take each day step by step, to watch the numbers and wait and see what tomorrow brings. I am not going to skip out on life, but I am going to make sure I know what life looks like before I head out. So ordinary is what each day is looking like, but in so many ways we can make it extraordinary. We can be kind, we can love on our families, snuggle with our pets, we can reach out to friends, by phone or by social media or write an email. We can enjoy the moments that this world has given us, the sound of rain, the beautiful sunset, the birds, our critters and we can appreciate the beauty in the simple things. I hope that you can make your ordinary day extraordinary as well.

We can come alongside our friends of color. Let them know we are there, and that we hear them. We can take time to educate ourselves. Read some books on what it is like for a person of color day to day. To pray for friends (and their families) who worry about their teenage sons going running, or driving out, or who are protesting. Be a catalyst for change, however small. Make a difference. Love your neighbor.

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  I love sneak peaks – they are always amazing.  This is an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist Lynne of Lynne Grant Photography  and see what she has for you this month. To check out her Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_ordinarytoextraordinary

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30 Minutes in the Life: May 2020

The stay at home is kind of lifting in Florida, we’re in Phase 1. I confess to being a little skeptical about numbers in Florida. That said I have been at home for the past 2 months with a partner who hates to sit still. Me I love it. I love working from home, although I need to learn when to stop. That is probably my biggest problem. You don’t pack up and drive an hour home, so you carry on working. I am getting better, but even as I write this over the long weekend, I know there are things I need to do.

For the past few weeks I have noticed some friends heading out to the local section of the Florida Everglades, Loxahatchee National Park. I mentioned to Richard that it was open and that if he wanted to go out we could go there and hopefully not encounter to many people. This is typically my sunset spot and on any given night it is kind of lonely and there may be at most 10 of us.

Right now, I have not been going to the park because my zoom lens died and I have yet to get another one. I am challenged with what I want. Of course, I want the 150-600mm lens so that I can get up to the eyeball of the creature that I am photographing but the thought of carrying that lens around has me reconsidering. I also want a lens I can travel with.

So we headed out with our chairs, our tumblers of wine, and I took along my 17-40 mm lens, and my 24-135 mm lens. So no close up of the sun heading down, but that was okay because it turned out there was no visual of the sun and the evening was very cloudy.

When we got to the park half of the county was visiting as well. So we tried to practice social distancing and set up our chairs away from folk and then sipped wine as we waited for the sun to set.

In these images I played around with my 17-40 mm lens and I really loved the super wide angle the this lens offers. I cannot wait to use it in different settings.

In these images I switched to my 28 – 135 mm lens. This was the closest I was going to be able to zoom into the horizon.

I had bought the 18 -40 mm lens after using my daughters fish eye in Rochester. We were also supposed to be on the road in August, or rather on a plane 😦 , and I wanted the 18-40mm lens because I had visions of super wide open images. However, I am not sure that I see this happening. I am going to be pretty disappointed if it doesn’t. We had plans to visit my son in law’s family in Macedonia, and the kids were going to have a wedding reception for his family.

We were heading from there down to the Lake at Ohrid in Macedonia and then on to Skopje. From Macedonia we were off to Croatia, starting out Dubrovnik, then heading up to Split. then further north to Zagreb. From there I had plans to head to Berlin. I have traveled through places in Germany, but never to Berlin.

So with all that potentially on hold, I kind of suggested that maybe by the end of the year Australia may be an option. This is a trip we really need to do. So we have to weigh up where this virus is going to take us in a few months and what international travel is going to look like. Do we really want to be on a plane again? And landing in a foreign country may mean having to go into quarantine for 2 weeks. That’s like your vacation time. May as well just stay at home.

Looks like the virus is going to rain on our parade. As did the clouds in the distance. Fortunately for us, it never made it to where we were sitting.

We were happy to be honest, just to be outdoors and for me taking the sunset again. I tried to use people where I could to create silhouettes.

Silhouettes are a favorite of mine and there is that part where you don’t have to pose someone and the look is kind of natural and they are not aware that you are taking their pic.

Luckily the sun was starting to set and I was hoping that I could get something out of this cloudy sunset.

Evenings like this on the Everglades is always fun. You become the food source for all sorts of bugs, my favorite being the mosquito and the yellow fly. The yellow fly is actually worse for me as I react to it as I would to a bee sting. Nice sweet swelling that is as itchy as can be and normally results in me swallowing anti-histamine before I get any real relief.

I have learned to make sure, that even in summer, that I have a long sleeve sweater with me. That way I can try and stay away from being part of the food chain.

There were a few local fishermen hanging out, along with a couple of gator on the far side of the water. The Everglades is a natural habitat for gator. We have kayaked inside the waterways and come across all sizes of gators. It is kind of creepy, especially when the water is low or when the gator goes down under water. I keep wondering where it may come up and pray that it is not right alongside the kayak.

As the last of the sun was setting, I switched back to the 18 – 40 mm lens to try to get a few more wide angle images. The clouds created dynamic dark images with that tiny flare of light.

I was not the only person with a camera out there. Actually it is a popular spot for photographers and you never really know what kind of sunset you are going to get. Our day is done and all that is left to do is pack up and head home.

Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life, and for chilling out with the sunset.  

I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Janet of Janet Crouch Photography and see what she has for you this month.  Check out her Facebook and Instagram pages as well. 

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Tell me a story: June 2020: The High Line

We are stuck in the early stages of opening up with the Phase One of the Covid-19 pandemic. I have not been out, other than to the local grocery store, and obviously I have not been taking photo’s. So I revisited unedited images from our trip to New York City last June. While I am talking New York City and pandemic, my heart goes out to the people of New York, and especially to the families who have lost loved ones. New York was decimated by the virus and it has been hard to watch their numbers climb and I am grateful that the virus is abating. Yet even 79 deaths reported today is too many.

Planning a trip and trying to acommodate everyone’s preferences is really hard. For the most part we agreed on where we wanted to go. Some years ago I had blogged with a friend who had walked The High Lline, starting in Chelsea Market area and walking up to Hudson Yards, where we were going to take in The Vessel, which was another interesting aspect of New York that I had read about.

Walking New York is tiring. There is a lot of city, and we averaged about 6 hours a day for the 5 days we were there. What I will say about New York City is their transportation system is fantastic. However, if you are traveling at peak hours on the subway, be prepared to feel like a sardine in a tin. With all those folk on the train it is hot, and I felt like I needed to be able to get off and breathe. We spent about 1.5 hours walking around Chelsea Market. Another hint, we were too early and a lot of the places had no opened up as yet. But we got a good idea of what was in the market area.

In 1924, New York city began the creation of an elevated railway line and in 1933 the first train ran along the lines and by 1934 the train line was fully operational and providing drop offs to companies along it’s route. By the 1980’s the train usage had been significantly reduced and a port of the train line had been dismantled. In the 1980’s there was a move to preserve the structure, but nothing ever came about. In 1999 the demolition paperwork of this railway lined had been signed. However a non-profit organization had the foresight to see what this line offered, and began the process of advocating for it’s preservation.

In 2006 the railway line was given the green light and approved as a public park. In 2009 The High Line Art was founded. Walking along The High Line was a treat and I was able to see some amazing works of art. While this image above was not on The High Line, I actually took the photograph from The High Line. This amazing painting is on the side of the Chelsea Market. The artwork was painted by a Brazillian street artist name Kobra. What you don’t see is that there was a light pole in the middle of the image starting at Mother Theresa’s head and going right down the middle of the staircase, which I had to edit out. It’s not perfect but I managed to get it looking okay about 6 hours of painstaking editing the pole out.

The walkway traverses through old building and high rise buildings with beautiful gardens. Below the flowers is the artwork of Firelei Baez. According to the informational posted on the walkway by the High Line Art Feirelei Baze references European decorative arts spread by colonial empires. It depicts a sinking ruin of the Haitian Sans-Souci Palace. In this work Baez examines incarnations of Sanssouci: the 18th century Rococo palace built by Frederick the Great, the palace of Haitian Revolution leader and proclaimed first King of Haiti Henri Christophe, and Haitian revolution leader Jean-Baptiste Sans Souci, who was assassinated by Henri, Christophe”

The artwork, also gave a nice framing for the typical New York City street.

Wherever I looked, there was something to see, and most of the time I was a good couple of yards behind my other 3 travel mates. I think every so often they were forced to stop and look for me. Randomly this cross below stood out to me in the middle of the city scene. I had no idea what the three women were meant to represent but I looked up what the words meant, and the Golden Door is meant to be a beacon of promise encouraging immigrants to embrace a new land and what it offers. The words “I life my lamp to the Golden Door” is the final line of the poem “The New Colossus” written by Emma Lazarus.

Another Kobre image that I only manage to capture a portion of was this image of Andy Warhol and Frida Kahlo. Also in the image but hidden behind the building were keith haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I wish I had been able to capture the entire painting but this was the best I could get between the two buildings.

The clock “Silent Agitator is the artwork of Ruth Ewan based on an illustration produced by labor activist Ralph Chaplin. Set in The artwork was produced for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union and shows the clock with the words “What time is it? Time to organize” refering to commonness of the clock in relation to labor struggles.

AMOR, AHAVA and LOVE are the artwork of artist Robert Indiana and are described as pop art sculptures. The word Love is translated into Spanish, Hebrew and English, representing the three most spoken languages in the city, celebrating the diversity of immigration to the cit of New York.

Below is art of Ryan Sullivan. He uses resin, fibreglass and epoxy to create his amazing work. According to The High Line display notice, “Sullivan’s latest artwork are the result of an industrial casting process guided by spontaneity and improvisation: he applies pigment and resin in multiple layers to an open faced mold. The resulting works use the non traditional painting concepts of figure and space, while also probing the limits of what a painting is. For The High Line, Sullivan installs four new resin paintings in conversation with the surrounding cityscape and plantings”

Added to the beautiful artwork is the incredible reflections seen in the glass buildings as you meander along the walkway. Added that is the mix of old and new in as far as buildings are concerned. You have the buildings that date back to early 1900’s in contrast with these high multi story glass buildings.

All along the walkway are beautiful gardens, benches to stop and catch your breath and to rest your weary feet. We are heading to the end of our journey and while my feet are tired I have no regrets requesting that we do The High Line walkway. I enjoyed every minute of it. We are heading to our next destination and you will get a glimpse of it in the last image. Yes, we are heading to The Vessel, found in Hudson Yards.

If you get a chance to walk The High Line I would encourage you to do so. You can do it at your own pace. Be prepared to stop and look at artwork, and snap photo’s. People watching is great fun as well. Make sure you allow yourself a couple of hours to do this, and don’t forget to stop by the Chelsea Market as well.

Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives.  This is a circle blog.  Take some time to view what the other artists have for you this month. My friend Mindy Sauvageau is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share

Share Six: May 2020: Simplicity

How does it get to be May already?  Half our year has gone and we are sitting at home watching it go by.  I hope you are all surviving the stay at home period.  This month Lynne chose the theme {Simplicity} and that works for me.

On my last trip to the grocery store to get bread and milk, I bought some tulips.  They are simple yet beautiful flowers.  They don’t last long and I bought three bunches of them.  The sad part is, like roses, they die way to quickly.

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Taken in the evening as the sun shone through the window just catching the tip of the flowers.


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Reflections on a dirty window.  Sadly it is a second story window and I am not climbing up to clean the outside of it.


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The beautiful simplicity of a single bud.


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Daylight and they are all stretched up high and facing the day.


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Each bud is is perfect in it’s simplicity and design


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I love how this bud has opened up so that we can see the stigma of the plant so clearly.


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Simplicity at it’s best.

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  I love sneak peaks – they are always amazing.  This is an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very talented artist Elizabeth from It’s Still Live Photography by Elizabeth Willson and see what she has for you this month. To check out her Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_simplicity



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Tell me a story: April 2020

I apologize to my other bloggers, last month was crazy with the whole switch to working from home and trying to come up with new scenarios on how to meet clients.  Hello telemedicine, but it certainly has been a journey.

We are still on the stay at home status, and so there is not a lot to photograph. Maybe I should be doing one a day but somehow I spend most of the day at my computer working.

Friday last week, I decided that I needed to get some vitamin D, and headed out to the deck to try and grab a little bit of sunshine.  While the weather is hot, it is really overcast and there is not a lot of sun grabbing going on.  Once the deck clouded over, I picked up my macro and decided to walk around our small garden and see what captured my attention.  Here are a few things from the garden.

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Tiny berries shooting of the variegated leaf tree that Richard plants everywhere

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Dead spikes of a evergreen plant out in the garden

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One of seven spikes of a tree orchid that is attached to my palm tree.  The ants clearly love the sap of the buds.

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The start of the third pineapple growing in the garden. And yes, it really looks like the colors in the image.

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The upper spikes of the older pineapple.

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One of the many succulent stems of the tree orchid attached to my palm tree.

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New buds on a very spiky plant.

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The opened version of the above buds.

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Berries from the chopped down palm tree flowers.

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A brand new palm frond coming up in the garden.

Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives.  Days are not overly exciting right now, but I would rather do this and stay safe than go out and end up getting sick.

This is a circle blog.  Take some time to view what the other artists have for you this month. My friend LUPJi Photography is up next and I can’t wait to read what he has to share.


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30 Minutes in the Life: April 2020

In the 2020….. (How does the song go “In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive ~ Zager, Evens”).  Earlier today I saw someone added an “in the year 2020…” a Facebook post with the idea that this would come up in their memories.

So what does Corona Virus Stay at home look like for you?  For me, it is still work as normal, in fact a little more than normal, but it has to be done so I am going to do it.

Richard has his office downstairs, I have my office upstairs.  Hoodini (the quaker parakeet I rescued) is moved out of my office into the spare room every morning, Ms Moo sits at the closed door whining to get in and Sims just ignores everyone and everything.  That is us, day in and day out, work and Zoom meetings make up my days.  Sunday evening we have managed to set up a Zoom games evening with the kids who are not close by.  It adds a little variety.  When necessary I will go to the shop, but so far I have managed to keep that to once a week.  I have been out of the house a total of 6 times in the last 5 weeks.

So for this month, my 30 minutes is really my editing time.  I thought I would get us on the road again.  We traveled a fair bit the last two years, and I found I was not able to keep up with the editing on all the trips.  Today I am going to go back to Maine, and a charming town that I got to visit with a friend.

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My friend Karen had married and moved to New Hampshire a few years ago.  When we decided to go up that way I connected with her to see if we could meet.  I also knew she spent a lot of time hiking in New Hampshire and I thought I would pick her brains on where to go.  She went one step further.  She decided to drive through to Maine and we went on a road trip.  First to the Ogunquit Musuem, then stopped by a lighthouse, then drove through to Portsmouth.

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This is a quaint little seaside town.  All of them are quaint to me.  Not sure how little they are though.  But for me the immediate town was so interesting.  I love the old brownstone buildings and the cobblestone pavers or brick sidewalks.  Today was an overcast day but luckily when we arrived in Portsmouth it stopped raining.

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The first stop was at a small street side bar called Portsmouth Gas Light Co, for lunch.  Of course, when in the north we had to have lobster rolls (and this was a first for me, both being in the north and the lobster rolls).  Karen and I shared and I can promise you that was more than enough food.  When I compare it to the ridiculous lobster roll we got in New York, this is amazing.  It tasted it good, and it was super filling.  Added to that we were able to indulge in the local brew.  I am a Heineken kind of person, and they were able to come up with a brew that matched my taste.  If you are in town, I highly recommend stopping by.   

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Another favorite of mine is street art, and we managed to find a few interesting murals to capture our attention.

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Walking the city was fun, and we soon headed down to the Piscataqua River that separates Portsmouth, New Hampshire from Kittery, Maine.

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We found a beautiful garden square that was a riot of color, carefully planned out and very appealing to the eye.

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We continued on crossing one of the local traffic bridges and walk along the waters edge enjoying the beautiful sites in front of us.

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The image below caught my attention because of the beautiful reflections in the water.

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We landed up along a quay of yachts and fishing boats which may or may not have been situated on North Mill Pond.  It’s been over a year, what can I say.  The bridge in the image is called the Memorial Bridge and it is a vertical lift bridge.  This bridge allows commercial boats to pass through.

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This bridge replaced an earlier built bridge that spanned this river from 1923 to 2012.  On the original bridge there was a plaque that read “Memorial to the Sailors and Soldiers of New Hampshire who gave their lives in the World War 1917–1919.”  This plaque was moved to the newly built bridge.

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We headed down to the Strawberry Banke Museum, side stepping into a historical grave site area.  I am a big fan of wandering through, reading the different tombstones.  I love history and these tombstones were very interesting in design.

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The tombstone about was that of Capt Tobias Lear who died November 6th, 1781.  According to the notes found on an onsite notice board, “Lear was a mariner of Portsmouth whose home, now a historic site, is a few blocks from Point of Graves on Hunkering Street.  His son Tobias Jr, Served as President George Washington’s private secretary.  The elder Lear’s gravestone was carved by John Homer and displays the realistic skull and cross bones for which he is known“.

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Another one that had clear writings on was the tombstone of Mary Blagdon. The tombstone says “Here lies the body of Mrs Mary Blagdon wife to Doc. Samuel Blagdon Aged 75 years.  Died Dec y 11th 1735.  I found the images on the tombstone interesting and wondered who chose the design on this woman’s tombstone.

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We passed the South Meetinghouse on Macy Street.  The building of this beautiful building was completed in 1866, and in those days cost $9,600-00 to complete.

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We walked down some side streets and this stairway caught my attention with all it’s number plates on it.  It certainly was creative, as was the front door of another house we passed.

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We found two new friends (for a short period of time) sunning themselves outside now that the rain had gone.

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We walked passed some alley ways where I captured this beautiful spiral staircase.

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And then we were back at the water’s edge, having walked along a boardwalk of restaurants.  I loved looking at the tug boards and fire rescue boats.

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In the distance we could see the Memorial Bridge we had walked past earlier.  We were on the other side of the bridge looking down towards it.

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In the opposite direction is the stunning Piscataqua River Bridge which spans the Piscataqua River.  The bridge connects Portsmouth. New Hampshire with Kittery, Maine.

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The bridge has 6 lanes and arches high above the river, eliminating the need for a lift bridge for boats.  The structure is this incredible mass of metal work that is absolutely stunning.

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Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life, and for traveling with me through this this small but oh so interesting seaside town. I hope you enjoyed getting out and about with me.  I look forward to the day we can pack up the suitcase and head out again.  I am still holding out hope for my Eastern European trip in August. 

Just a reminder that this is a circle blog.  I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Janet of Janet Crouch Photography and see what she has for you this month.  Check out her Facebook  and Instagram pages as well. 
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